WASHINGTON, May 9, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last year consumers saved $6.5 billion in better rates and lower fees by using not-for-profit credit unions rather than banks. But many people still don't know much about credit unions, or how to find one they can join. A new website – "aSmarterChoice.org" – has been launched to give people basic information about credit unions and direct them to one they can join, with minimal hassle and no confusion.
"Credit unions are a smarter choice for financial services. They are locally based, renown for great value, and totally focused on serving their members," said Bill Cheney, CEO of the Washington- based Credit Union National Association, the industry's largest trade group. "We created aSmarterChoice.org to make it easier for consumers to find out about credit unions and join the 92 million Americans today who already rely on credit unions for personalized and reasonably priced banking services."
In addition to a locator tool with every U.S. credit union in its database, aSmarterChoice.org offers basic information about credit unions in a clear, concise and easily navigable format, compares average rates and fees at credit unions vs. banks, highlights the latest "good news" on credit unions appearing in the media, and presents real-life comments submitted by people who belong to credit unions.
Credit unions are financial cooperatives owned by their accountholders, rather than outside investors. Because they are member-owned and not-for-profit, credit unions return their excess earnings back to the members they serve, typically in the form of higher rates on savings accounts, lower rates on loans, and by charging lower and fewer fees.
Today there are about 7,600 credit unions in the U.S. Many offer the full range of consumer financial products and service found at banks. To join a credit union, a person has to fall within its "field of membership," which defines who a credit union can serve -- typically people who work for the same business or government body, belong to the same association, or live or work in a specific geographic area like a city or a county. People can be eligible to join multiple credit unions, and many are.
"Everybody can join a credit union, just not the same credit union," CUNA's Cheney explained. "It's just a matter of knowing the ones you're eligible to join and making the move. The locator tool on aSmarterChoice.org is the most comprehensive one yet created; it will instantly search every credit union in the U.S. and find the best options for you. If you want to know about credit unions, aSmarterChoice.org is the place to start."
Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is the primary national trade association for the country's 7,600 state and federally chartered credit unions, which are not-for-profit financial cooperatives serving more than 92 million Americans. Learn more about CUNA at www.cuna.org. Learn more about credit unions and find one you can join at www.aSmarterChoice.org
SOURCE Credit Union National Association